It was when my oldest boys were toddlers that I fell in love with children’s books. I could sit for hours with them nestled on the couch with a stack of fresh finds from one of our favorite places…the library. It’s where I discovered the brilliance of Beatrix Potter and Eric Carle. I learned how wonderful were illustrations by Ezra Jack Keats and Kevin Henkes’ hilarious Hooway for Wodney Wat! along with books about country living like A Year at Maple Hill Farm. I love the authors who seem to get it just right. A great children’s book can just about cure what ails you some days.
Last winter, after two bouts of sickness had run through our entire family, I was weary. Concerns for many things weighed on my mind–health at the top of the list, but certainly not the only thing concerning me. We had Warm as Wool from the library. Recuperating on the couch, we read together about a pioneer mother who had real concerns for her family. Cold, hungry and faint, her children looked to her for comfort. One particular illustration instantly brought me up short. I recognized the anguish in her eyes as she wondered how their family would manage to survive such a grave situation. Though my situation was concerning and real, it certainly didn’t compare.
This sketched and shaded mother knew the toil of caring for a family. She bore the burden of her childrens’ hungry gaze which inquired of her for direction and comfort. As I am prone to do when a book teaches me a lesson, my voice choked up and tears flowed down my cheeks.
I held my children in my arms in our warm, heated home on our worn and welcoming couch. We were ill, but we were very well. There was food in our pantry and dinner in the oven. My heart was suddenly grateful that my light and momentary troubles were just that.
In the story the family acquires one sheep and later a flock. From their wool, the mother is able to knit precious, warm socks and sweaters for her family whom eventually thrive in their pioneer life.
These socks for Amelia took me an entire year to knit. One is bigger than the other. They are knit with the wrong type of yarn. And the toes are a bit lumpy. There is plenty wrong with them, but she loves them. And I do too. I love that I had the luxury of taking a year to knit them. I love that though they are different sized, they are finally finished and they both fit her feet. I know they aren’t as warm as wool, but they are pink so that makes up for their lack of gain.
I am afforded so many luxuries as a woman of this age. Why knit socks that take a year? Why not just buy some? I guess I’d like to think if I had to, I could knit some warm things for my family too. But I’m glad I don’t HAVE to.